My poor Pretty Boy has been ill for the last few weeks. He’s cost $1,200 in blood tests and medications, with another $800 in scans coming up.

Fortunately, he’s recovered his spunk, and we’re now just looking for lumps and what-not that might impact his long-term care (and cost). So with all this fresh in my mind, let’s look at a Pet Ownership Holistic Spending Plan.

Vision, Mission, Virtues

It’s not my goal to be narcissistic, but for the sake of convenience, I’m using my Vision, Mission and Virtues.


My ideal universe:

I and my household flourish. I think clearly and take prudent action. I am strong, fit and energetic and exhibit command presence.

On a side note, I think that might need reviewing for 2018.


Mid-term plan:

Develop and maintain a calm and peaceful home which enhances wellness and through prudent prevention, eating, sleeping and moving.


There were some mid-year changes, but the core remains Beauty, Friendship, Pleasure, Wisdom, Wealth.


Our dogs are 13, so at this point, what we really want to do is make them feel comfortable and well-loved in their last couple of years.

For our purposes, the Better goal:

Cherish our dogs for the rest of their lives.

This goal is mostly about time and focus, but there’s some spending that needs planning.

Basic Spending Plan

We’ll use the same basic proportional plan with the after-tax monthly income of $3,435.

Department% of incomeAmount


On average, over the course of its lifetime, a pet can cost $40,000 for food and medical care. Or maybe a bit more. On average, a Labrador lives 10 – 14 years, though of course some live longer and others not so much. We’ll be positive, and work to 14 years giving us an average of $2,858 per annum or $238 a month. Or twice that for two.

The cost of pet ownership increases as it ages; a young dog in good health that doesn’t get injured will only see the vet once each year for vaccinations and a health check, which cost us $130 per dog last time. It can eat almost anything but could cost $100 a month for food, though sensitive, active, older (etc.) dog food is often more expensive.

It is possible to buy a range of pet insurances covering accident and illness with a range of exclusions and reimbursement rates. If we bought the top cover (80% reimbursement) for a puppy today, the premium would be $75 per month or $900 for the year. Second or more dogs come at a discount. For an extra $5 per month ($60 pa) per dog, we could get up to $80 pa towards the cost of routine care such as vaccinations.

So, that’s on average $238/month to self-insure (save) for food and medical care. Or $175 for food and insurance plus $20 for the 20% not covered by the insurance. Plus you’ll need a bit more for the exclusions like preventative care, conditions where the prognosis is uncertain, long-term medication, elective procedures (including de-sexing), and pregnancy (among others) which could end up costing more than the additional $43 of self-insuring.


I’ll be working on the basis of self-insuring. This gives me the bonus of putting that $238 into a high-interest savings account where it can make me money while I’m not using it which might help offset the impact of inflation on costs.

  • Food: Your food costs may decrease as you will be walking your dog; regular exercise tends to change the way people feel about what they eat.
  • Housing: No change for me, though someone who was not a homeowner may have to pay more rent as a pet excess.
  • Clothing: Perhaps fewer street clothes and more inexpensive house clothes for pet-related activities like walking, playing, and washing.
  • Operations: Potentially you could shave your summer costs as you may be out more and have less need of air-conditioning. It’s often a great place to trim costs by developing frugal habits in any case.
  • Happy Life: Pets make you happy, so this is where their costs go. In practice, you can buy dog food at the supermarket with your weekly shop, though it is much cheaper to periodically buy it in bulk at a farm or livestock supply yard (though this requires additional time and fuel cost). Their prices on some medications and supplements are also much more competitive. As you are exercising more and eating better, there will probably be a flow on reduction in your healthcare costs.

Potential Pet Ownership Holistic Spending Plan

You’ll make other changes according to your particular circumstances, but here is one potential spending plan:

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Oddly enough, your willingness to spend on your pets increases in proportion to the length of your relationship. We do not question the necessity of paying $2,000 for Pretty Boy, only where it’s coming from.


Pets actually slide very easily into your life, and it’s not until they get old that you start thinking about how you’re going to pay for them. But, like your kid’s college education, it’s something that the sooner you start making provisions for it, the more likely you are to be able to pay for it.

Photo of Alexandria with the Pretty Puppies December 2024, by DB.

Just a little reminder, you can read other relevant posts on the Holistic Personal Finance page.

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